The ex-Muncie Girl on political lyrics, moving fan encounters and the value of DIY music
Lande Hekt is a punk rock lifer. The first music she loved was emo and pop-punk like Hot Water Music, Rancid and the Movielife, thanks to her older siblings. She got her first bass guitar aged 10, and she and a friend would learn New Found Glory songs and perform them to their primary school classmates. “We were definitely the weird kids,” she smiles. But, she adds, that first taste of playing music changed her life: “I never really stopped doing it forever.”
As a teenager, while studying at Exeter College, she formed the indie-punk trio Muncie Girls. They headed out on the road as soon as they were done with college, and from there they became a fixture of the UK DIY punk scene. Hekt’s cutting, politically-personal lyrics set the band apart, leading to them winning Best British Newcomer at the Kerrang! Awards and landing support slots for huge bands like Taking Back Sunday and Los Campesinos!.
In 2019, with Muncie Girls on hiatus, Hekt changed direction. Releasing her first solo EP, Gigantic Disappointment – later followed by her debut album, 2021’s Going To Hell, and its follow-up, 2022’s House Without A View – Hekt’s solo music drew on softer influences. Her lyrics became more vulnerable than ever. Hekt had recently come out as gay when she began the project, and her anxieties around queerness and relationships are explored in total honesty.
With a headline tour now announced for October following a stint around the UK and Europe with The Beths, Lande Hekt tells where she’s headed next.
What do you think it was about punk and alternative music that drew you to it in the first place?
My brother and sister are a fair bit older than me so I just really looked up to them, and whatever they thought was cool I thought was cool. When I was about 16, and I started going to shows at my local venue in Exeter, punk rock took on a new significance for me as I started to get into politics and became a little bit more socially aware. I’d just got into college, so as a white kid growing up in a very white area, it was kind of a big moment to realise things. Everything that I liked about punk rock remained in terms of how it sounded and how it made me feel listening to it, but I think I had a new understanding of some of the politics behind it.
With Muncie Girls you were really politically involved. You wrote largely political lyrics. Are you interested in using your solo platform in the same way?
When I was writing a lot of those lyrics [with Muncie Girls] it was just before the big Corbyn vs Johnson election. I think before that all ended extremely badly, there was a little bit more hope in the air, and being politically outspoken and having super-charged conversations felt really significant – like you were taking your own role within a generational change that was happening. I hadn’t yet been so downtrodden by how things are. It all felt really worthwhile. After that, we had Covid and horrific things happening in the media and in our culture, and it was a big blow to people, I think. And that’s not to say it won’t be better again in the future, we have to feel like it will, but now I’m more interested in music that has a political atmosphere about it, but that’s not quite so on the nose. Politics fills me with a little bit more dread now, because I don’t have that kind of hope about everything.
You’ve talked before about the importance to you of being a visible queer artist. Where do you stand on that now, particularly with LGBTQ+ rights in quite a scary place?
I think at first it was so tied up with how I was feeling, coming out in my own life, so there was a lot of wanting to make that the topic of every single song, or to push that as the main thing about my music. And I guess naturally I now feel like I do still want that as a massive part of my music, but I also want to just be seen as a musician. At the same time, it’s such an important thing to be outspoken about, and I think you do need those artists. Like you said, it’s an extremely worrying time, so I think people need to be in the spotlight about their sexuality or their gender or whatever it is they want to be presenting.
I think it is super important for people [to hear], especially young people who are kind of finding their voice. I think once people stop being vocal about who they are, or their beliefs, it makes it a lot easier for them to be silenced, because they’re already silencing themselves. So yeah, I do think it’s really important to remember that, even if sometimes it feels a bit tiresome, you have to keep pointing out things about yourself or your political beliefs. There are always people that do benefit from it.
Your music is really honest about some really raw topics. Have you ever had any memorable experiences with listeners that have showed you how you’ve connected with them?
Yeah, I think I’m pretty small in terms of visibility or whatever, so it does blow me away sometimes when people let me know if something’s been significant to them. It’s always a really profound thing if someone even just says that they like it. Anyone who’s queer and says they’re going through some kind of discovery or a difficult time is always really special. But for some reason the one that gets me most is when people say they’re newly sober or have been sober for a long time. I don’t necessarily have that many lyrics about being sober, but I have been open about it, because I’ve been sober for like six years now. Whenever people tell me about that, I find that quite emotional. I think that’s quite a nice thing to connect with people on.
Ever since you began Muncie Girls, you’ve been deeply involved with the DIY music scene. What does that mean to you?
We’re really lucky to have been from Exeter, which has got this amazing venue, The Cavern, and a really brilliant local community. Not just people who go to shows and who are interesting and like-minded, but also really good bands to look up to and play alongside. That is a really special place to be from. It showed us how a scene can function in a meaningful way. And the shows weren’t about getting wasted, they were about how we can all be working on our community and the place that we live.
Then we went on tour in Germany and we realised this almost exact community exists in all these different towns. I remember having my mind completely blown, and having really incredible conversations with people from different countries who were into a lot of the same bands as me, but also just into the same politics and the same ideas. I think that has given me a very specific view on music. I can see if someone’s in it for the right reasons or if they’re not. Community trumps profit. If your music sounds like it would make a load of money, then it’s got no value in the DIY scene. It’s for music that doesn’t have a place elsewhere, and I think that’s really special. I think that there’s no end to the value of DIY music; it’s definitely essential.
You’ve got a headline tour coming up in October. What do you have planned for that and what are you most excited about?
Yeah, that’s gonna be really really fun. I learnt a lot from the last headline tour that I did in the UK. When my album House Without A View came out, we did a tour of the UK on a total shoestring budget. It was so much fun and I absolutely loved it, but I unfortunately got sick towards the end so I missed like three shows. Even with this last tour [in support of The Beths], we tried to cut so many corners in terms of budget, because obviously it’s just so difficult to make things work at the moment. But it ended up being so much worse. We spent loads of money in the end because we tried to save money. So I’ve learnt a lot about that.
This time, it’s like five shows, and I know they’re all gonna be really good shows, because the last time I played in those places they were brilliant. And I could have added more shows that I knew would have been good, but I wanted to keep it relatively simple and straightforward. But yeah, I really like all the venues, and the bands that are gonna be playing with us are brilliant, so I think it’s gonna be really cool.